Friends of Regent's Park Newsletter 79

A fond farewell to Malcolm at the AGM

Park-3   Park-2   Park-1
Springtime in the park. Photos by Malcolm Kafetz

Those present at the AGM on 18th March were able to thank Malcolm Kafetz for his long service with the Friends, and say a fond farewell to him as he was presented with two gifts. He has handed the reins over to Conall Macfarlane who will be assisted by two Vice-Chairmen, Stephen Crisp, who has been in charge of the garden of the US ambassadorial residence for 27 years, and David Thomas, an architect. A Paulownia or foxglove tree was planted in Malcolm’s honour on 3rd April.

Our treasurer, Richard Portnoy is also planning to retire so the committee urgently needs someone to take over his role. The job is not onerous but needs someone with accounting knowledge. Do contact Conall if you would like to volunteer for the position.

The main speaker at the AGM was Greg McErlean, the Royal Parks’ Director of Programmes, Projects and Information Services and his talk was entitled Unique Parklands in Iconic Locations. A chartered surveyor by profession, he has worked for the Royal Parks for 16 years, having previously been at English Heritage. His main interest is building conservation and he has worked on special projects such as the Hub and the Olympics. He spoke about the challenging time facing the Royal Parks as a result of funding cuts and also outlined the key objectives of The Royal Parks which include the conservation and enhancement of the natural and built historic environment as well as our biodiversity; visitor and stakeholder engagement; the efficient management of the parks and the development of a range of income streams and fund raising events.

With an adjustment for inflation, the Royal Parks budget from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has gone down from £37m in today’s inflation adjusted figures) in 2003-4 to a projected £11.6m for 2015-16. Self-generated income now accounts for 60% of total funding and in 2013-14 the Parks will need to raise £18m. The general split of this raised income across all Royal Parks is 34% from major events, 26% from catering, 17% from grants, lottery funding and donations, 16% from licences and rents and 7% from film location fees, small events and permits. In Regent’s Park, for example, the three lodge leases raise £123,000 p.a. Major funding in Regent’s Park has recently focused on improving water quality and irrigation systems in Queen Mary’s Garden, resurfacing the Broadwalk and drainage works to Primrose Hill.

Because of the unique nature of each of the parks Greg stressed the importance of ensuring that fund-raising events were appropriate for each location and the need to increase stakeholder engagement. He took on questions from the audience about HS2, recycling and speed limits. The meeting concluded with police Inspector Chris Churchman outlining the success of the Park’s police during the last year. Primrose Hill is the problem area but another challenge they face is that of children who have temporally lost their parents in the park. The committee then raised the proposal to increase the annual subscription, which has remained constant for more than 16 years, to £15. The additional funds would be employed to assist more improvements to Regent’s Park & Primrose Hill.The increase was approved by a large majority by show of hands. The Chairman would be happy to hear from any members who were not at the AGM and have objections to this proposal.

The meeting closed with a vote of thanks to Malcolm and his wife Anna.

iPad drawing by Ivor Kamlish

World War One in the Park

St Katharine's Lodge

During WW1 the then Patron of the Royal Foundation of St Katharine, Queen Alexandra, the Queen Mother, granted the use of the Regent’s Park Chapel to her fellow Danes in London. The Master’s House (then St Katharine’s Lodge) became available for leasing.

In June 1917 the wife of the American tenant, Mr William Salomon 1852-1919, a banker from New York, offered St Katharine’s Lodge to the London Chapter of the American Red Cross for use as a hospital for officers. Until such a time that it was needed for American officers, it was decided to make the hospital an auxiliary to the Military Orthopaedic Hospital at Shepherd’s Bush. In addition to adapting the residence structurally to the needs of a hospital, Mrs Salomon generously equipped it and paid for its maintenance.


The St Katharine’s Lodge Hospital was officially opened by Mr Walter Hines Page (1855-1918), the American Ambassador. Page was a great supporter of the United Kingdom and believed that it was fighting a war for democracy. As ambassador to Britain, he defended British policies to President Wilson; he helped to shape a pro-Allied slant in the President and in the United States as a whole. One month after Page sent a message to Wilson, the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany.

The hospital had been quickly fitted with 30 beds and the first patients arrived on 1st August 1917. Later, it had 44 beds with 12 beds in the largest ward, while others had six, five, four or two, and there was one single room. The walls on the ground floor were painted grey, while those on the first floor were biscuit-coloured; the others were blue and white. The floors were covered in blue linoleum, and the white beds with blue eiderdowns. The white lockers had electric lamps with blue shades. The frames of the screens were painted white and had blue poplin panels. Table tops were composed of blue and white tiles.

The operating theatre was well equipped and well-lit. A mirror placed outside one window, and hung at an angle, caught and reflected the light back into the room - a device frequently found in American hospitals. The Hospital also had a massage and electrical department, as well as a gymnasium. There was excellent bathroom accommodation and the building was centrally heated. American women living in London supplied pyjamas and dressing gowns for the patients, who were mainly British officers at first. Later, American patients were also received.

Staff   Staff and Patients

The resident medical officers were from the American Red Cross who had recently been attached to the Military Orthopaedic Hospital. The Matron was also from the American Red Cross; she wore a simple white poplin dress and a regulation close-fitting cap with a small Red Cross in front, and white stockings and shoes. The eight registered American nurses wore grey dresses. Members of the VADs (the Voluntary Aid Department) worked in the kitchen or answered the door or the telephone.

On 1st January 1918 the hospital was transferred to the control of the American Red Cross Commission for Great Britain. It was then designated the American Red Cross Military Hospital No. 23 and was staffed by 11 American Red Cross nurses. The Hospital had 38 beds, which continued to be used for the care of British officers. However, in the midsummer of 1918 the Hospital was militarized and became a ward for American officers of the United States Army Base Hospital No. 29, which had been established at the North Eastern Hospital in Tottenham. One of the nurses in the hospital was Flora McGregor Frid (1889-1987) Since the Canadian government did not allow married women to serve overseas, she joined the American Red Cross in London.


The Hospital closed after the war and in 1919, the West End Hospital for Nervous Diseases took over the building. In 1919 the building at 73 Welbeck Street became the Out-Patients Department while the in-patients moved to the vacated St Katharine’s Lodge. The Lodge had been refurbished and contained 75 beds with some single-bed wards, a modern operating theatre, an X-ray department and electrotherapy treatment rooms. Additions included a Pathology Department, a PostMortem room and a mortuary chapel, with statues of guardian angels on either side of the altar. The Hospital was also equipped for ‘sun treatment’. During the 1920s the Hospital opened a Child Guidance Clinic, which had three psychiatrists and three to four lay psychotherapists on its staff.

In 1932 a psychiatrist was also appointed to care for the in-patients at St. Katharine’s Lodge. By 1938 the Hospital had 96 beds and a children’s ward with 25 cots.

Later in the Second World War the Welbeck Street building was severely damaged by bombing and the Regent’s Park building was hit by a V1 flying bomb in 1944; in-patients were transferred to temporary wards at St Charles Hospital, where 60 beds were made available. Thus ended the care for patients in Regent’s Park.

Photographs from album courtesy of Stephen Crisp

In the Gardens

The wet weather has played havoc with some parts of the park, in particular St John’s Lodge gardens which had to close for several weeks. More work may need to be done to improve the drainage.

Re-planting of the trees in Cherry Walk has just been completed with the same species Prunus x yedoensis. This lovely tree was introduced to England from Japan in 1902. Work on the aged irrigation system in Queen Mary’s Garden is more or less complete so that the grass will be reinstated in April and May. The Mediterranean border has been worked on as well with structural planting in the middle-tier bed of some mature olive trees, loquat and azara. Later in the spring will see the under-planting of perennials.

Remedial work has also been done on the sports pitches with replacement of the grass surface of the adult football pitch 10 and a better drainage system. April was a busy month with the fertilisation, overseeding and top-dressing of all the open spaces.

Andy Williams, Assistant Park Manager
(note from your editor - we say farewell to Andy who is off to Kensington Gardens as Park Manager)

On the allotments

The season should start with a bang as the raised beds have all been reworked thanks to a grant from the Royal Parks Foundation.

Julie Riehl

Park prosecution

A personal fitness trainer, Mr Ajavon Baron Cohen, has been prosecuted for carrying out sessions in Regent’s Park without a licence. His case was heard at Highbury Corner magistrates’ court. He was fined £50 and ordered to pay costs of £50. The Royal Parks is not alone in charging trainers using the park to carry out fitness sessions. These range from £850 to £1500 per annum. Hammersmith & Fulham council has introduced a fee of more than £1,000 a year for trainers coaching groups of five or more in Hurlingham Park, Putney. The Royal Parks regulations state that it is unlawful for anyone to carry on any trade or business in a Park without written permission. The licensing system, introduced in January 2013, in response to a perceived increase in the number of fitness operators working in the Royal Parks, allows personal trainers to operate lawfully in the Royal Parks for the first time, bringing them into line with group fitness trainers. Professional dog walkers must pay £300 a year plus VAT for a licence to use the royal parks, following a trial last year, and are asked to sign up to a professional code of conduct.

According to the Brent and Kilburn Times, Mr Ajavon told magistrates he was not trading as a trader on both occasions when seen by officers, and that no money was paid for either session. He plans to launch an appeal.

Meet your committee

Hilary Bach

Hilary Bach and her husband John have lived in their house next to Primrose Hill for 43 years. As a former dog owner she loves the atmosphere of the park, but did not become active in the Friends until the Friends organised opposition to the proposed replacement of the Golf and Tennis School with Goals, a floodlit five-a-side football facility. She and her family have happy memories of walking across Primrose Hill on summer evenings to play tennis there with local friends and neighbours.

The role of the Friends, she believes, is to liaise with the park management, fostering good relations and calling them to account where necessary. On the Committee she particularly represents members living on the north side of the hill who are currently concerned with the flooding caused in part by the lack of drainage on the northern slope of the hill. Hilary also assists with the planning of Friends’ outings, and attends meetings with the parks’ Constabulary on behalf of the Friends. She regrets the current changes in policing. Patrolling in cars rather than on foot has reduced day-to-day contact between park users and the police. Like all the Friends she worries about the shortage of money to maintain the park, and is concerned that the authorities try to rectify the shortfall by staging moneymaking events incompatible with the priorities of park lovers.

Hilary was one of the founder members of the Elsworthy Residents’ Association and is a past Chairman. She is currently a trustee of the Westminster Society for People with Learning Disabilities. Recently, she completed an Honours degree at the Open University in Humanities with French. Having worked in educational publishing before bringing up a family she enjoys volunteering at the Primrose Hill Community Library.

For the future, Hilary hopes that the Friends can assist in ensuring that the parks are relatively free of urbanization and continue to be the ‘lungs’ of London to be enjoyed by all. She would very much like to see more younger members on the Committee.

Margaret Elliott

Zoo news

Three of the world’s rarest tiger cubs made their public debut just in time for Mothers’ Day, exploring the outdoor paddock of their home at ZSL London Zoo’s Tiger Territory.

The seven-week-old cubs joined mum, Melati, when she ventured outside to stretch her legs on Wednesday afternoon, and appeared delighted with their new play area.

The cubs, who won’t be named until keepers know if they are boys or girls, have been spotted playing in their custom-built cub conservatory area, but this is the first time that they have ventured outside into the main paddock.

Zookeeper Tracey Lee said: “We were watching the cubs on the hidden cameras in their dens, when it looked like they were about to follow Melati outside - we all rushed to the exhibit and were just thrilled to catch them playing outside for the first time. We got a real glimpse of their different personalities, as two of the cubs confidently bounded outside while the other one hung back a little and needed a bit more encouragement from mum. Melati spends 24 hours a day caring for the cubs, playing with them, feeding them and washing them and only leaves them for a few minutes at a time to eat, so they’ve given her the best Mothers’ Day treat of a few minutes peace!” While keepers can’t predict when the cubs will be out and about, visitors to ZSL London Zoo can still catch six-year-old dad Jae Jae hanging out in Tiger Territory.


ZSL is delighted to announce that HRH The Prince of Wales is to become its first Vice Patron. Since joining ZSL’s Exceptional Young Zoologist Club aged just 13, the Prince has been a long-time supporter of the Society; most recently visiting ZSL London Zoo in November with the Duke of Cambridge to attend a United for Wildlife meeting. During the visit, their Royal Highnesses were given a tour of the Zoo’s new Tiger Territory exhibit, where they came face-to-face with Jae Jae, before meeting conservationists for an urgent discussion on how to end the escalating crisis of illegal wildlife trade.

The Prince will join his mother, HM Queen Elizabeth II, who has been Royal Patron of the Society since her coronation in 1953.

ZSL’s Director General Ralph Armond said: “I am delighted that The Prince of Wales, a longterm campaigner on wildlife conservation, has chosen to become the Vice Patron for the Zoological Society of London. During his recent visit in November it was clearly evident that he shares our passion for animals and protecting them in the wild. The Prince’s commitment to stopping illegal wildlife trade is very closely aligned with our conservation work, and he has shown particular interest in the conservation technology we are developing, including next-generation cameras that will be used by park rangers to help catch poachers.”

During his five-year term as Vice Patron, The Prince will be involved in ZSL’s wideranging work, which includes ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, conservation projects in more than 50 countries around the world, and its science arm, the Institute of Zoology.

ZSL presents a new series of its unique Writers Talks on Endangered Animals in the animal houses of ZSL London Zoo, chaired by poet and ZSL Council Member Ruth Padel. Leading writers team up with ZSL conservation scientists and keepers to talk intimately about different animals. In the animal’s presence, the writer responds to it imaginatively and ZSL experts speak about its nature and conservation. The audience can question author, scientist and keeper and have books signed over a glass of wine. Find out more at

James Wren,
Development Director, ZSL

For the diary

A Date with Nature ‘RSPB Heronry’ on the Waterside Clarence Gate 18-21, 26-27 April, 10.30-5pm
King’s Troop Parades Gloucester Green 23, 25, 30 April
Gorilla Circus, Trapeze Grassed area between Charlbert Bridge and Macclesfield Bridge 3 May - 7 September
Open Days Allotment garden 5 and 27 July 11am - 4pm
Harvest festival Allotment garden 21 September 11am - 5pm

Theatre time again

Once again the Friends will have a special discount for the Open Air Theatre productions. We can book best available seats for £22.50!* (normally up to £45). Bookings can be made in person at the box office in the Park, two weeks prior to the performance. Please bring your membership pin as identification.

*offer is available Mon-Fri and Sat matinees and excludes Twelfth Night Re-imagined for everyone aged six and over.

Tickets are sold subject to availability, and are subject to the theatre’s terms and conditions, including the weather policy, available at :

All My Sons 15 May - 7 June
Hobson’s Choice 12 June - 12 July
Twelfth Night re-imagined 21 June - 12 July
Porgy and Bess 17 July - 23 August
To Kill a Mockingbird 28 August - 13 September


Stop press

Macclesfield bridge will shortly be acquiring new gates to replace the old one. Installation at the end of April (date to be confirmed) will inevitably cause some disruption as the road will be closed for the work to take place.

Hot off the press

Camden Goods Peter Darley,
Camden Goods Station through time,
Amberley Publishing,


Request for email addresses

Would all members with email addresses please send an email with their name, postal address and email address to Linda Johnson . We would like this information so that we can communicate more efficiently with our members.

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Site created on Friday 25th February 2011, last edited Friday 13th June 2014.
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